Worst Beginner Sewing Mistakes – Part 1: Preparatory Stage

  • Serger Pepper - Worst most common beginner sewing mistakes - Measure Twice, Cut Once!

When you’re just starting your sewing journey, it’s common doing some newbie mistake.

Here I’m talking about the ones I think are the most common (and I’m guilty of some of them me too, also if I can say I’m no more a beginner).

Most of those mistakes can be avoided just going on and practicing, you can’t expect everything is going to be perfect at first projects. The best part is that you will learn more from a mistake than from a perfect project

DISCLOSURE: I’ve never created a perfect project, I’m only supposing it won’t teach me anything more than I mistake 😉

Note: Just because this post was growing out of control, I’m splitting it in two (long) parts: today’s topic are those mistakes that you can stumble upon while planning your project.

Next Friday we’ll analyze some of the worst mistakes you can do on the next phase, the one where you’re actually completing your garment, from the first cut to the last stitch.

Beginner Sewing Mistakes involving the Fabric:

  • For best results, you need to be able to choose the right fabric for each project, depending on fiber content, knit/woven, elastic content, weight and dimension of print.
  • If you’re a beginner, I’d suggest you choose a medium weight non slippery fabric for your first projects.
  • Never skip pre-shrinking fabric: you always need to make at least one complete washing/drying cycle to your fabric, using same temperature and programs you’re going to use later, for launder the completed garment.
  • This can also solve some color leaking problem (I always add vinegar in my washer’s fabric softener bowl – never actually use it for fabric softener).
  • The only fabric I can suggest you to skip pre-washing cycle are the ones you’re not planning to wash later (think dry-clean only, like some wool).
  • With pre-shrinking in mind, you must consider buying more yardage than the one you normally find on pattern instructions, depending on how much your fabric could shrink at first washing cycle (knits usually shrink more, like some elasticized fabrics and some wool).
  • After pre-wash, better lay it flat to dry, than hanging it!
  • Remember to press your fabric before you start laying your pattern pieces on top of it: a wrinkly fabric will always become wider when flattened, so if you cut it without pressing it first, you’ll end with bigger pieces, then a bigger garment!

Beginner Sewing Mistakes about the Pattern:

  • Maybe you already have a cut of a fabulous fabric you’d really like to use, and you’re going to choose the pattern later… here are some of my guidelines!
  • Choose a pattern on your sewing level, or be ready to make some research if you want to choose one beyond your abilities (ask Uncle Google, he knows everything if you make him the right question): you know, there’s a learning curve and you need to climb it!
  • If you have a huge printed wonderful fabric, please skip that princess seamed dress, or yokes: you won’t be satisfied from the result that will split this beautiful fabric design in little pieces without meaning!
  • When you have your perfect pattern in your hand, be sure you READ AND UNDERSTAND everything! You’re not loosing your precious time, if someone wrote 50 pages of instructions and you’re a beginner, better read them and understand what you’re supposed to do from A to Z… 99% of the times you’re going to be in trouble, if you skip this important step! Did I mention: read and understand?
  • Before you decide the size, measure yourself and check size chart on the pattern. Never assume that, if you cut a size 6 in your last pattern, you’ll be a size 6 for any and every pattern you’ll do: each pattern maker has his own set of measurements and they can be quite different one from the others PLUS, depending on the type of garment you’re going to sew, the designer can suggest you to use a certain measurement for choosing the right size (in my Basic Leggings pattern I suggest using hip measurement to choose size, then you can adapt the fit for the waist. If you were choosing the size using the waist measurement, you’ll certainly end cutting the wrong size).
  • If you’re going to sew a new to you pattern composed from more pattern pieces, I’d really suggest you making a muslin first (you can use old bed sheets, if you want to save money).

Beginner Sewing Mistakes around Cutting:

First law of cutting my mom taught me is:

Serger Pepper - Worst moct common beginner sewing mistakes - Measure Twice, Cut Once!

  • Lay your fabric on a flat surface, do not let it fall down the table. If you need to cut on fold, be sure the fold is exactly on grain!
  • Take your time laying your patterns pieces on fabric, check twice that they’re perfectly aligned with grainlines then pin all around (or use pattern weights) before cutting: one of the worst beginner sewing mistakes is inaccurate cutting! If you don’t cut exactly along pattern edges, you can end with a pattern piece that is one or two sizes bigger or smaller, depending on where you’ve cut!
  • Some fabrics are worst than others: a slippery fabric need much more attention than quilting cotton or a denim!

Take your time and you’ll have terrific results!

  • Double check on pattern instructions if you need to cut on fold, or mirrored, or if you need to cut in single layer, which side is going to be put up (this is important also when cutting fusible interfacing – this is a beginner sewing mistake I fall off every now and then)
  • Transfer each notch and marking on your fabric before separating it from the pattern piece you used for cutting it!
  • Sharp scissors can save you a big headache: I had scissors that were chewing my fabric…. and I used to hate them!

Beginner Sewing Mistakes on choosing needle & thread:

  • You need to accurately choice the right needle, before starting to sew, because every fabric and project need a certain kind of needle (or you’re going to face skipped stitches, wrong tensions, holes in the fabric, seams puckering and many other nightmare scenarios.
  • The right thread type can also save you from the same situation. My mother always used a cotton thread for machine sewing, now I like to use a polyester thread every time I can: it’s more durable and slightly more elastic too: if used in knits (with the right elastic stitch) will be less inclined to break when the seam is pulled!
  • Stay away from cheap or old thread: you never know when (or where) it’s going to break!

Last note:

Don’t be afraid of asking for help: nobody’s born able to sew, every sewist had to learn! You can either find a class nearby you, or search the web or learn techniques on a video class (I’m addicted to Craftsy‘s ones… I was appreciating their all-level classes a lot of time  before becoming an affiliate!)***

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links 🙂

Serger Pepper - Worst most common beginner sewing mistakes - Measure Twice, Cut Once!

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About the Author:

Hi there! I love sewing, creating my own patterns and refashioning pre-loved clothes... If you love the same things, why not be friends? See you on Pinterest http://Pinterest.com/MammaNene

3 Comments

  1. Kathy April 13, 2014 at 01:53 - Reply

    Very well written blog post. Beginners will learn a lot!

    • Mamma Nene April 17, 2014 at 11:09 - Reply

      Thanks Kathy! I love helping beginners to start their sewing journey…

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